22 September 2012


As we get older, we acquire scars. Have you ever been with a group of friends and the "Scar" game ensues? Someone shows a scar, and then someone else tops it with a bigger or badder scar. Each scar has a story behind it. Pretty soon, people are lifting up shirts and pulling down shorts to show off their marks.

Harry had a pretty famous Scar, too
Personally, I can look over my body and locate plenty of scars. There's the incision scars from my appendectomy a year ago. The turf burn on my right elbow from college football. The diamond pattern in my right shin from a BMX pedal slippage incident... you get the idea.  Well, you get a few ideas: one is that I'm injury prone. The idea I want you to get is that each scar has a story.

For example, my right index finger is pretty damn ugly. It's scarred from 3rd degree burns from when I was four years old.  Before there were Beavis and Butthead, there was me, the a junior pyromaniac. One autumn evening, I was feeding bits of masking tape into a candle flame and watching them burn. After a few times, one strip failed to catch fire before my fingers got too hot to hold near the flame. In my four year old intelligence, I wrapped the tape around my finger and proceeded to place my finger in the candle flame. I can only imagine I thought that only the tape would burn leaving me unharmed... As you can imagine, the result was far different!  My mother, who was in the other room taking care of my infant sister, now describes the scene like this:
He came running into the room screaming and holding up his hand like Lady Liberty, complete with a burning torch.
Yeah, not a brilliant move on my end. Suffice to say, a trip to the ER and now I have an ugly right index finger.

But I also have a great story that accompanies that disfigurement.

Right, but this is a gaming blog. So how does this relate to WoW?

Well, it's a bit of a retrospective as we get ready to embark on the new expansion.

See, Cataclysm was all about scars. The physical landscape was changed. The Barrens was ripped in two, as was Stranglethorn Vale. Thousand Needles flooded. Deathwing's rise changed the landscape. The entire expansion was about reshaping: the landscape, the talents, the game mechanics.

One of my biggest complaints with the Cataclysm expansion has been that while we have these amazing physical changes to the world, the lore behind them are lackluster at best, and non-existent at worst. Mainly, I've simply never really cared about Deathwing. He lacks --- charisma? presence? An explanation as to why all of a sudden he's here melting Stormwind's towers? More like all of the above.

In fact, Cataclysm tries to tell a story with each of these scars. On some level, the changes to each of the zones from the quests in the zones is really quite successful. If you simply take each zone on it's own the new quests do tell a story for each zone.  However, these stores fail to come together into a whole main theme for the expansion as a whole.

On the other hand, I've thoroughly enjoyed the changes to the game in Cataclysm. The extension of LFG to LFR has been great for me, as have cross-realm raids.  So, despite a poor showing in elevating the final boss to an actual "final boss" status, the scars left in Cata have altered the way the game runs - mostly for the better.

There are also the invisible changes, however.  I like the LFR system because I am the target demographic for LFR. I'm not on a raid team. I'm a casual solo player, any my grouping experiences stem pretty much entirely from random in-game groups. Without LFR, I would never have seen Dragon Soul. I'd like to see LFR get extended backwards so that older raid content can be experienced as well, but that's a different post.

With cross-server raids, I can take advantage of OpenRaid and join in on raids that meet my own schedule.  I am not comfortable joining a regular raid team because I simply can't commit to logging in 'ready to raid' on a regular basis. If I did commit, I'd be letting 9 or 24 other folks down. I'm not gonna do that. So, the game has evolved giving me the ability to still experience what I can when I can.  I'm a fan of that!

All in all, I'm looking forward to putting Cata in the rearview and tackling some new challenges. I expect to pick up a few new marks as I re-learn the ropes of the game in the new expansion.

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